Texas A&M got what it wanted when it moved from the Big 12 to the SEC: stability and out from underneath Texas’ shadow.
Of course, more money helps too.
But when reached by Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News, A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said the move was bittersweet.
“I regret that it is coming to an end,” Byrne said. “On the other hand, looking at what’s going on nationally, I think it was a brilliant move to go to the Southeastern Conference, which screams stability. No one is trying to get out of the Southeastern Conference. That’s not true of the current conference we’re in.”
Truth, or just sour grapes? You can be the judge by reading Jon’s entire story with Byrne HERE, but it’s tough not to believe that just about any school would sacrifice tradition in favor of a higher annual payout these days. Not that A&M wanted to completely scrap tradition; Byrne added that he tried to get the best of both worlds and keep the Lone Star Showdown alive despite the Aggies moving on to the SEC.
“I’m very foolish,” Byrne explained. “I assumed — and it was a rash assumption on my part — that our friends over in the state capital would want to continue playing us. It turns out they didn’t think we were as much of a rival as we thought of them.”
How that’s a surprise, I’m not entirely sure. Texas made it clear from the get-go that if A&M departed the Big 12, there would be no more annual rivalry between the two schools for the immediate future. And after losing a heartbreaker in College Station to the Longhorns last November, it’s no wonder that the Aggies want another crack at “t.u.”
But, in the end there doesn’t appear to be a lot of love lost between the two. As much as I — and I’m sure I speak for plenty of others — would love to see the two sides play every year, the reality is the business of the sport speaks the loudest regardless of what each side says.
Ex-Alabama QB Blake Barnett commits to Arizona State
After leaving the FBS level in September, a formerly highly-touted quarterback has confirmed he’ll be back next season.
On Twitter late Monday night, Blake Barnett announced that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career at Arizona State. The announcement comes a little over three months after Barnett left Alabama.
Because Barnett enrolled at a junior college almost immediately after transferring from Alabama, it’s thought that he’ll be eligible to play for Arizona State after the first month of the 2017 season. He’d then have two full seasons of eligibility remaining after next year.
Barnett, who started the opener against USC but held on to the job for just two series, was a five-star 2015 recruit who 247Sports.com rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country. The California high school product originally committed to Notre Dame in November of 2013 before decommitting from the Irish in June of the following year.
After leaving Alabama, Barnett had drawn the interest of, among others, Cal, Florida, Miami, Michigan State, Oregon, Texas A&M, UCLA and Washington
One of the most dominant defensive players in the country has gotten his just due. I’m thinking it might not be the last.
Very late Monday night, the Football Writers Association of America announced that Alabama’s Jonathan Allen has been named as the 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, given annually to the best defensive player in the country. The defensive end was one of five finalists for the award, players that included a teammate, linebacker Reuben Foster, as well as Florida State cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers and Clemson defensive end Christian Wilkins.
Seven times the last eight years, a Crimson Tide player has been a finalist for the award. This is the first time a player from that school has taken home the trophy.
“I’m honestly speechless right now. I never in a million years thought I would even be up for this award, yet win it,” Allen said. “I’ve got to thank all the guys back at Alabama, God, my parents, my girlfriend, everyone who’s had a part in shaping me and making me who I am. This is just a tremendous award.”
Allen’s statistical resume is encapsulated by the FWAA:
Allen is second on the Crimson Tide’s career sack list with 26.5 and has nine sacks for 72 yards in losses this season. He has 15 quarterback hurries, has broken up two passes, and blocked a kick. He has scored touchdowns on two fumble recoveries – a 75-yard return against Ole Miss and a 30-yard return against Texas A&M.
His worthiness, video-wise, can be summed up thusly:
Ole Miss WR Damore’ea Stringfellow jumping early to NFL
Not surprisingly, one of the most physically-gifted wide receivers in the country is making himself available to the next level.
Ole Miss confirmed Monday that Damore'ea Stringfellow has decided to forego his senior season and will enter the 2017 NFL draft. The receiver had long been expected to make the leap; the official announcement served to confirm the obvious.
“I cannot begin to express to Rebel Nation what an honor and privilege these last three years have been putting on the Ole Miss jersey each Saturday,” Stringfellow said in a statement. “The fans’ endless support, both on and off the field, has allowed me to grow and develop into the athlete and man that I am today.
“In that light, after much reflection and prayer, it pleases and saddens me to announce that I have decided to forgo my senior year and declare for the 2017 NFL Draft to pursue my dream of playing on Sundays. I would like to thank my family, coaches, professors and most of all the fans that have given me the love, courage and much needed prayer to go out and make Oxford proud. I truly would not have this amazing opportunity without you.”
The past two seasons, after he sat out the 2014 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, the 6-2, 219-pound Stringfellow caught 82 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“I am grateful to Damore’ea for his commitment to our program,” said Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze. “He has a tremendous opportunity, and we are excited for him to enter the next phase of his life. We look forward to seeing another Rebel receiver in the NFL.”
Lamar Jackson, OU tandem headline list of five Heisman finalists
The Heisman Trophy finalists were announced in a made-for-awkward-television moment during ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown on sight from MetLife Stadium. The Heisman trust revealed a list of five finalists including: Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, Michigan linebacker Jabrill Peppers, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson and Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook.
Described my some (read: yours truly) as Allen Iverson in cleats, Jackson’s slippery explosiveness led to 4,928 yards of total offense and a nation-leading 51 touchdowns responsible for. He is regarded as the overwhelming favorite to win the stiffarm trophy.
Mayfield has thrown for 3,669 yards with 38 touchdowns against eight interceptions. His 197.75 quarterback rating is on pace to break the FBS single-season record, and he pilots an offense that ranks third nationally in scoring and yards per play. Mayfield’s efforts helped Oklahoma win its second straight Big 12 title and complete the first 9-0 run in the league’s 6-year round-robin era.
Peppers is the swiss army knife of a threat for the Wolverines. He ranks second on Michigan’s elite defense in tackles and tackles for loss while also returning punts and kicks and serving as a running back on offense.
Watson has led Clemson to back-to-back ACC championships and College Football Playoff appearances while firing 37 touchdown passes and throwing for 3,914 yards on the year.
Mayfield’s top target, Westbrook recorded 74 receptions for 1,465 yards and 14 touchdowns on the year. Westbrook’s inclusion makes Oklahoma the first team to send teammates to New York since Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush did the same for USC in 2005. They’re just the fifth set of teammates to do so overall (Leinart and Bush did so twice.)
That’s also the last time the SEC did not place a player in the top five vote-getters.
The Heisman Trophy ceremony will be held Saturday night in New York.